Four new political parties have been added to the official register in Russia in the run up to the elections planned this autumn and next year’s contest for the Duma. None of these, however, appears to be a party opposed to the current regime.
As I wrote previously, it appears that President Putin is seeking to broaden the range of potential parliamentary parties. The current dominant force – United Russia – has been in power since 2003 and is now severely tainted and riding very low in opinion polls. President Putin can therefore either choose to reinvigorate it or to rely on a range of other parties gaining seats in the Duma. Whetever position he might hold next, he will continue to need to be able to pass legislation and this means having a majority in Parliament – whether in the form of a single party or a group.
The four new parties joining the register are:
- New People led by Irena Lukiyanova
- Green Alternative Party, chaired by Ruslan Khvostov
- For Truth led by Zakhar Prilepin
- Direct Democracy Party led by Vyacheslav Makarov, one of the creators of the World of Tanks game.
All parties have been added to the register having held their initial congresses. Three of the four were registered within a month of their congresses and the other took less than two months – a speed of registration not seen since the law on registering parties was relaxed in 2012. In order to qualify to run candidates in the September regional elections they will have to register branches in at least 43 regions. Rumours persist that regional officials have been tasked with helping them achieve this goal.
Other potential new parties are still out there and still have time to be added to the register.
One theory being put forward is that the new parties will include a mix of those intended to win seats in the Duma and ‘spoiler parties’ seeking to draw a section of the electorate away from a more opposition-minded party. Some will simply be there to try to get new voters out and to raise turnout. A party aimed at gamers would appear to fit the last of these.
There remains a further hurdle between these parties and the Duma elections next year. They must either secure 200,000 signatures or win at least one regional seat.
h/t to Lincoln Pigman for drawing my attention to this